Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How NOT to Act During a 3rd World Mugging

I want to thank everyone again for their messages of support and healing over these last three days. And to be honest, I wasn't gonna write about this so soon after the event because I had other things lined up, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is a lesson learned from my misadventure Saturday night. And I want to stress as vehemently as possible to anyone who reads this, do not react the way I did in the same situation. The consequences could cost you your life....

The village I currently live in.
It was Saturday evening, and the incredible full moon that comes around once every few years was taking up the night sky. It was absolutely gorgeous. The pueblo where I live is very small one and is just on the outskirts of a huge network of mountainous rain forest that stretches from here to the border of Panama. Needless to say this background combined with a clear starry night and that full moon inspired some reflective thought in yours truly.

So as is customary on my Saturday evenings after the workweek is finished, I decided to partake in some locally distilled rum. This in and of itself was not where I made the mistake. I made the mistake of thinking it would be a good idea to take a walk under this full moon while as drunk as a poet on payday. So I left the safety of Hacienda de Gipson and decided to wander and wax philosophic underneath this celestial gorgeousness the earth had been blessed with.

Now I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression here, Costa Rica is a lot safer than about 99% of the world. Violent crime is actually pretty rare here, especially in my location. But wherever there are impressionable young men, stupidity is bound to follow. And wherever a visibly drunk and stumbling (possibly singing) gringo is meandering through the barrio at night, that stupidity shifts gears and becomes opportunistic. Which is what happened to me.

I saw the three of them walking towards me in the distance and they were constantly turning and chattering amongst themselves as they got closer. One was much taller than me, but incredibly skinny and he was wearing a dark blue hoodie with the hood up, partially obscuring his face. Another was a little bit smaller and he was wearing a winter hat pulled down over his face with eye holes cut out. And the last one was wearing a baseball cap and bandanna combo that instantly screamed "genius". I was unsure of their intentions until the taller skinny one smashed a bottle on the pavement and kept the jagged broken neck in his hand like a knife.

Who my attackers THOUGHT they were like...
This is where a smarter man than myself would have turned and run. And this is what you should always do if there is at least 100 yards distance, as was the case here. But I, being the drunken former Marine and current black belt that I was, saw this as somehow comical. I stopped walking, and waved at them as they approached. I don't think a single one of them was over the age of 18 or 19, and the one with a broken bottle was shaking like a leaf. I saw this as an opportunity, in my inebriated state, to add some positivity to their lives and maybe diffuse the situation with friendliness and compassion..

"Hey kid, I think you broke your bottle, you might want to drop the rest of it or somebody is liable to get hurt*"  I said jokingly with a big smile. As I was talking to him, one of his friends circled around me and behind my back while the other was uncomfortably close to my right. The kid with the bottleneck then said "give us everything in your pockets, or I'm going to use it to stab you in the neck and you will die*". In that split second, the one behind me tried to wrap his arms around mine in some strange restraining bearhug. And that's when instinct and training kicked in...

Who my attackers were ACTUALLY like...complete with hoodie.
I stepped back, and stomped on the foot of the one trying to restrain me while simultaneously headbutting him with the back of my head onto the bridge of his nose. He screamed, "hijo de puta!" and ran off quite quickly. I then gave the tall one in front of me with the bottleneck a "This is Sparta!"style heel kick to the chest which resulted in him stumbling backwards, dropping the bottleneck, and hitting the back of his head on the phone pole behind him. Lastly, I yanked the one with the black mask by the arm and threw him over my shoulder headfirst onto the pavement. The resulting "clunk" was both sickening and audible from quite a distance, and he was quite obviously seriously hurt. But unfortunately, I grabbed his arm and pulled him in a submission hold while he was face down on the ground. That's when the rock hit me....

His friend, the tall one in the hoodie, had picked up a large rock from the side of the road and chucked it as hard as he could and bull's-eyed me right in the forehead. The blood from the resulting wound came quickly and swiftly with a lot of volume, and I was instantly stunned. Luckily for me, the kid just wanted to help his friend who he helped to his feet and ran off with in the distance. I should have just given them my wallet... It's not like I wouldn't have been able to track it down afterwards with police help because this is such a small town. But my ego and my blood alcohol content rewarded me with a deep head wound that I had to stumble back home with. Even now, three days later it hurts like hell and is in constant danger of infection because of the tropical environment I live in.

If my attackers were better armed and / or had a better killer instinct, I would be another violent crime statistic. I would be dead. And this is the lesson I really want to hammer home to all of you. Martial arts training, while incredibly useful in one-on-one nonlethal situations, is useless against numbers. Don't be fooled by movies and TV, real combat is fast and dangerous and subject to the laws of physics and mathematics just like anything else in the physical world. So if you ever find yourself in the same situation as me, try to get out of that situation as best as you can. Run. If you can't run, comply. If your compliance results in more violence, defend yourself as best you can while simultaneously trying to escape and make as much noise as you can to attract attention. This is a lesson I learned the hard way this Saturday night, and I hope this story inspires you need my warnings....

31 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

I've done enhanced conflict and you did well but you seem to be a lightning rod for misadventure.

Autumnforest said...

Jeez;
Bad mix, baby. I have to tell you what I tell my girlfriends. "Don't ever get drunk without having friends with you who will keep you out of trouble." In my friend's case, she tended to get drunk and her friends would pick up men and take off and leave her with a man that she'd go home with. Promise me you won't get drunk alone. Better yet, get drunk with a pretty local gal. I'm just glad you're fairly all right and definitely sober now.

Questions said...

Wow that's an exciting story. Good job in standing up for yourself though. Too bad about the rock.

Zakk said...

That was intense! Glad you survived! Just being supportive :)

Robert Fünf said...

I'm a big believer in standing up and fighting, but perhaps there are better routes to take after partaking in home made rum. (Which, sounds delicious by the way.)

Gloria said...

Aaron Is nice to know you are better and you have to take care Aaron.Nice story but you have to be carefully!! Nice picture where you live, x gloria

leanmeansteen said...

agh thats too hectic. glad to hear you're safe. my muay thai khru used to tell me about his group fighting misadventures. i can't quite agree that "martial arts is useless in a group situation" cause it sounds like you had them up until you went to submit that one guy, but i wasn't there. but to also echo your sentiments, non violent confrontation is definitely the way to go.

Devon Davidson said...

Ouch, well at least you came out of it relatively unharmed so to speak. It could have turned out a lot worse.

Shutterbug said...

I am glad to hear that you are safe... :)

Bassislv said...

this was crazy man, glad to hear you are safe

Agustin Creevy said...

well at least im sure those kids learn a lesson, but it's important for you to remember, is a disadvantage to fight while drunk

Astronomy Pirate said...

Sounds painful, some more of that rum might ease your pain. Ha. Feel better.

Daniel Andrade said...

wow you were lucky..

ed said...

I stopped walking, and waved at them as they approached.
^ lol'd. good job surviving

Justin said...

Glad you're okay man...also, you kept your wallet with your bad ass marine moves, ha.
I've been to Costa Rica before too. It was amazing, and didn't see any sign of crime.

Lhosreiff said...

Crazy shit, good thing they were pussies.

Sam said...

What a crazy story, thanks for sharing.

Moob said...

sad news

Patti D. said...

Very dangerous, bottom line is, you should wear a gun or at least a nice knife, to leverage the situation.

Alphabeta said...

Wow. That is pretty incredible.
I think a lot of 'muggers' out there are like these kids. If they get a hint that you're willing to match them or that you're batpoo insane they will get scared.

Having said that, I agree that it's probably best to do a runner if at all possible.
You were lucky in a way, but I'm sorry to hear you got injured.

Has the adrenaline faded yet?

My heart shaped blog. said...

I'm glad you came out of it relatively okay!
It's good that instead of trying to defend what you did, you're not ashamed to admit you probably made the wrong decision. It's sad that we live in an era where it's wiser to walk away than stand up to people who target us, but I guess it's what's necessary to survive.
Hope it heals fast :)

Bob lehcror said...

Wow I wouldn't like that at all...

Merlyy said...

Nice story, was a pleasure rading htis. You were really brave.

Kicking Rocks said...

HAHA hijo de puta!! great story glad you are alright!

husar said...

good post

+ follower:)

Banacek said...

Good lord, man. Every day is an adventure in your life. Well, I'm glad you're not dead or too terribly injured. It makes for an entertaining story!

duffboi said...

crazy, sounds like good advice.

mac-and-me said...

crazy stuff

Melanie said...

Holy crap! I am glad you are ok - I hope no infection befalls you! The things that happen to you...
Were I in the same situation, I would probably curl up in the fetal position and cry like a baby...but I am a girl. Although, right now, with all the pregnant hormones controlling my mouth, I would probably say something that would get me into more trouble...

Matthew C said...

Good to hear you made it out alive, though. I never drink alone- always with a designated driver and a small posse.

Keep up the interesting posts!

-DO- said...

omg, i'm glad that you are save. if i would ever be in the same situation i would run as fast as i can